Saturday, October 22, 2011

Filipino farmers hold rally, join call for justice for murder Italian priest

Peasants hold a rally in Davao City in the southern Philippines on Saturday, October 22, 2011 and join calls for justice for murdered Italian Catholic priest Fausto Tentorio who was gunned down in North Cotabato province. (Photo by Jonald Mahinay)

DAVAO CITY (Mindanao Examiner / Oct. 22, 2011) – Filipino farmers held a protest rally here on Saturday and joined mounting calls for justice for an Italian missionary who was murdered in the southern Philippines.

Many of the farmers are members of the Kilusang Magbubukid sa Pilipinas in Southern Mindanao and the rally coincided with the commemoration of Peasant Month.

Tentorio was shot dead while he was about to board his jeep on October 17 in North Cotabato’s Arakan town and militant groups and human rights activists, including communist rebels blamed the military for the killing.

Tentorio, who was called Father Pops” by locals, was a known anti-mining advocate who defended the rights of indigenous tribes in the province.

The rally was attended by some 300 farmers from Mindanao.

“It is very ironic that we are commemorating October as peasant month, but one of the staunch peasants and lumads advocate, Fr. Pops was gunned down by believed to be agent of the State and human rights violations against peasantry and lumads in the country sides due to militarization continue unabated,” Pedro Arnado, chairman of the KMP, said in a statement sent to the Mindanao Examiner.

Arnado said three days after the killing of Tentorio, government troops also killed a farmer who was identified as Ramon Batoy, in Arakan town. Troops tried to search Batoy’s house, but the farmer resisted and was hit by a soldier with the butt of his rifle.

Protecting his family, Batoy hacked the soldier who was killed and at this point, troops opened fire on his house and his neighbors. Batoy's wife who was 6 month pregnant managed to escape with her daughter and son.

“This is a very mournful peasant month for us farmers with this continued practice of extra-judicial killings and relentless human rights abuses against hapless civilians, farmers, lumads, church people and members of progressive organizations in the country. The Armed Forces of the Philippines, alongside with its Commander-in-Chief, President Benigno Aquino, must be held responsible for this barbaric acts,” Arnado said.

“As we condemn the killing of Fr. Tentorio, the killing of Ramon Batoy and other human rights violations inflicted by the military against the peasantry in Arakan, we also condemn the incessant attacks against the peasants in our struggle for land, genuine agrarian reform, justice and lasting peace,” he added. (Mindanao Examiner)

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